Ok I will have some exclusions to my statement. I'm not talking about classical or jazz. My comment is mostly pointed to rock and pop releases. Don't even get me started on rap.... I don't consider it music. I will admit that I'm an old foggy but come on, where are some talented new groups? I grew up with the Beatles, Who, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix etc. I sample a lot of new music and the recordings are terrible. The engineers should be fired for producing over compressed shrill garbage. The talent seems to be lost or doesn't exist. I have turned to some folk/country or blues music. It really is a sad state of affairs....Oh my god, I'm turning into my parents.
1) so many releases make it hard to find the good stuff 2) music in general has become a business and like books (remember them?) once a formula is found you just keep repeating it rather than explore new things and expand 3) producers have taken to compressing the hell out of the songs for mp3, etc.
There is still a lot of good "new" stuff - you just have to sift through a lot of crap to to find em.
I think a lot of music today sucks... over produced, cookie cutter noise meant to be quickly digested and forgotten about just as quickly. That being said, I also think because of the internet, youtube, facebook, bandcamp, etc there are much more opportunity for some great artists to get their music out to the masses. I spend a few hours each week scouring the internet and trade rags to discover new music. Its really rewarding to find a "diamond in the rough".
There is lots of good new music. Not so much great new complete albums, like ones from the classic rock artists referenced. Recordings are mixed differently to fit the ways most people listen to music these days. "The Times They Are A Changing" is old hat. They have already changed.
Nothing wrong with appreciating old stuff, music, gear, vinyl, tubes etc., but these things are not where it is at these days. Music is actually probably more diverse than ever, incorporating more elements of more styles from around the world than ever before. Good modern hifi gear that does digital well is the ticket. Then all the old stuff is the icing on the cake as needed.
Try breaking old listening habits like looking for good albums to buy. Start a music server put all the music you like or think you might have any chance of liking on it. Think of it like the ultimate jukebox....all the music you like or have interest in at your fingertips. If you do not know what to play or listen to next for whatever reason, let the computer make the selection and enjoy not knowing what might play next. When something wets your fancy, read up on it and seek out similar or like music.
In essence, getting up with the times has a lot to offer, but you have to be willing to explore new waters and break some old habits.
It doesn't all suck but it is increasingly difficult to find the great stuff burried in mountains of garbage. It is also true that there isn't that many "cool" radio stations that people listen to religisously anymore. The really big ones don't exist period. So where can you get to hear it? It's tougher than it used to be. As for recording quality well most commercial releases are digitized and it's true that a miniscule portion is aimed at the audiophile audience. That stuff is usually really well known re-releases like some of those obscenely expensive Japanese dics.
I totally agree with the posters to this thread so far.
I find myself buying new improved, remastered, SACD, High definition versions of the songs I played in my youth. That is, primarily classic rock.
I think it has to do with when we were young, music was the primary way the youth of that era expressed itself. I mean there was no internet, cable, electronic games, mass media etc.
When we were young. We were part of a massive baby boom generation that wanted to be heard. We had protests, Vietnam , and drugs, sex and "rock and roll' after all. The music of today lost that soul of what drived us.
This doesn't mean there isn't some good new music, but to me it is rare when you hear an artist that truly feels as though they are part of the music, not just going through the motions as so many cookie cutter artists/groups today do.
I think every generation prefers the music they listened to when they came of age and generally thinks that most of the music that followed that period was a step in the wrong directions. There are some current artists that I like and have actually bought their CD's or even LP's but the quality of the recordings are generally so poor that I find them hard to listen too. Cold Play comes immediately to mind, I like a lot of their music but only listen in the car.
Have to disagree. I remember back in the 1970s when the same question was being asked. Now people generally look back on the 1970s and recognize that a lot of great (rock, R&B, fusion, reggae) music was produced. Maybe in another 20 years most of the music from that era will sound really dated and fall out of fashion. I think our perception of what is "good" is malleable and often new music is disparaged as noise and then appreciated more and more as time goes on.
And then there's the age issue, people will go through life strongly identifying with the music they listened to as they came of age. Older people may not like rap, but it may be viewed as great music in coming decades. It has already infiltrated other genres (like country) and there are interesting and melodic rap-influenced rock bands where musicians are back to playing real instruments. New acoustic bands like Mumford and Sons seem to be incredibly influential if the number of imitators are any indication.
"people who think new music sucks are not exploring music enough, there is plenty out there."
Most popular music is more of a fusion of styles these days. You hear it more and more even in perhaps the most mindless forms like dance music. Its a good thing I think. Music evolves. Elements of older, purer forms like rock, soul, blues, and others get infused into newer concoctions that are more varied. That's the artistic process. No music stands still. It evolves over time, for better or for worse. But the same basic ingredients go into it.
Variety is abundant these days everywhere you look. Music is no different. Its just that there is a lot of new stuff mixing older and newer ingredients.
And overall it all sounds better to me as a whole than ever before because recording and playback technology has (surprise surprise) actually IMPROVED, like it usually does. Seldom resembles the music I grew up with 30-40 years ago though.
You always have to be willing to cut through the crap to find the good stuff. Most all music that has EVER been availble in any forms is still available one way or another today, often remastered to sound better than ever. ANd that all besides all the new and varied stuff that comes out.
Its easy to get lost and drown in inforamtion or even just music these days, and just give up. Big mistake! Unless you are content just living in the past. NOthing wrong with that, but it does not support the argument that most new music sucks. MY 12 year old daughter, who actually has excellent musical tastes for her age, would disagree.
I think the talent is still there, it's the production that sucks. One thing I notice about the classic bands (what we all agree to be "good" rock) is that it is SIMPLE! Stones, Zep, Floyd (with some exceptions into effects), Beatles...it's all simple. Too many of today's young bands are at the mercy of producers who want to interject all kinds of crap into what might otherwise be great music. For example, I like MGMT's talent because they have melody and a groove. But too many of their songs are sabotaged by needless effects and stupid bells and whistles. John Mayer (I think he has a very long career yet to come) gets it. Great songs, superb musicianship backing him up, and awesome production values. There are just too few who get it.
I tape a fair amount of late night talk shows and at least TRY to give the bands 10-20 seconds. Some stuff I liked- Alabama Shakes and The Shins come to mind. I can even appreciate some of Justin Timberlake for what it is....
There is some good music out there, but the Rock releases in recent years suffer from the Loudness Wars. I'm shocked that some of the "studio savvy" musicians have let these CDs be released. These are artists who have been around since the 70s and 80s and would have some control over their releases. As far as the classical and jazz I buy, the quality of CD just keeps getting better. But I haven't found much music from new bands that I would buy...but when I have, they suffer from over-compression.
In the past few days I've listened to Jack White's "Blunderbuss," a couple of albums by Wilco, two Drive-By Truckers records, the latest from Ryan Adams. All of these artists have been around for a decade or more, but all are making new -- and very interesting -- music. -- Howard
Generation to generation has had the same complaint. What did we hear about Elvis, The Beatles, The Doors, ..... ? Fill in the blank. What did folks say when punk, new wave, etc. hit? The generation of today finds plenty to explore, enjoy, and relate to. I have been introduced to a lot of interesting artists from my children, and yet I still prefer the music from a certain era, but that doesn't negate the quality artists who are out there today. And yes, I did used to walk to school on fence posts in the snow!
Maybe what can be said musically, that resonates with the western world, is finite, and we are getting close to the end. Pickings are getting slim. Could the only way forward be backwards? With better tech to record and listen.
Time for the rest of the world to take the stage?
I am just glad I lived during a time when all the great stuff was created or was aval on hifi systems for the home.
50 years from now, todays teens will make a similar statement.
For me, I know my place in time and I am satisfied with it. There is sooooooo much Jazz and classical music I have yet to hear. The young folks like the current music scene, just as I did in the 60's.
Popular music keeps getting worse and worse, IMO. And for the record, I'm not one of those who prefers the popular music of his own generation (the 80's). I prefer the popular music of generations before mine. Virtually any of them.
Some hypotheses about why things are getting worse...
1. Increasingly sophisticated market analysis. The attitude seems to be: give them what they want, even if what they want is garbage. In fact, garbage is cheaper to produce, so all the better.
2. The prioritization of televisuality. Now beauty = talent. That is a new development over the past few decades, and a terrible disservice to music.
3. Proliferation of artists. Hard to find a needle in a haystack, especially a haystack of needles.
4. Cultural apathy. War? Corruption? Starvation? Screw it, American Idol starts in 5 minutes.
I'm sure there are lots of other reasons, but those are some likely ones that come to mind.
A lot of good comments here! I don't think I totally alone in my opinion. For those that can recommend well recorded, well written and performed releases, I'm all ears. It can't be just one song but an entire cd. A couple of the recordings that aren't that new but I enjoy are:
Neil Finn - One All Rooster - Circles & Satellites Greg Brown - Dream City Rusty Truck - Broken Promises Amos Lee - Mission Bell Tedeschi Trucks Band - Revelator Buddy Miller - Best of the Hightone Years Gov't Mule Dose
As Jrb25 mentions above, every musical era has had this issue. Over time though, we forget the crap that was put out and has faded into obscurity. What we do remember is the really great stuff and of course most of that is still around today (because old farts like us are still buying/listening to it). Having said that, I do think it's easier to produce music today than ever before with all of the great/lousy technology we have at our disposal. So, as has also been said, I think there is more new music today that we have to sift through to find the gems. Whether it's better or worse depends on your viewpoint. On the one hand, back in the "old days" record companies decided who would get produced and who was shown the door, then they collaborated with radio stations to play what they wanted played and that "produced" a lot of hits. I'm sure a lot of music that we would have liked never got heard because of decisions made in back rooms. Today, indie artists can produce their own albums and release them electronically (YouTube). No need to press CDs, LPs, etc.
So, 20-30 years from now I expect the same discussions to be going on. I probably won't be here to hear them though!
ITs mostly just the culmination of what started back in the day largely with Elvis, The BEatles, etc., ie popular music is now all about money, not just mostly. Also increasingly visual these days given that music alone does not sell as well as it could. It helps to have appealing visuals.
So my suggestion is forget about "popular" music. Only very small % is widely popular. Plenty of ways to find the "less popular" good stuff these days, more ways than ever. Stop complaining and just find it!
BTW I hated a lot of popular music from the 60-80s when it came out and like more of it alot more these days. Time always tells. Will same be true 20 years from now? Probably. Just a different group of people bitching.
Do what nonoise suggests, find ways to expand and get out of your comfort zone. DOing that can benefit us in many ways as we age including helping to find new music we like. Maybe a nice glass of wine while listening will help.
Personally, I was born in 1959. In recent years I have learned to mine and find a lot of great music, popular and otherwise, that came out before the time I became of age and got indoctrined by the Beatles and rock music. ITs amazing how good a decent remaster of DUke Ellington from even the 1930's for example can sound these days when done well. I've even digitized and put all my families old 78s on my music server, some of which are quite old. I find its mostly all good. I will say though that i tend to mix in modern "popular" recordings in smaller limited doses, but there is a ton of other less popular newer recordings that I enjoy regularly. It's all out there just waiting to be discovered and listened to.
Can there be any doubt there has never been a better time to be a music lover than today? Music is a blessing! We have a huge variety, so much so finding and choosing can be harder than ever. IF you are a music lover, just count your blessings and enjoy it!
If your local public library is anything like mine, periodic trips to the library to seek out new music to listen to can be a gold mine.
When flipping through Comcasts music channel Im always amazed to see the massive crowds going nuts over whos ever on stage making what I consider to be little more than loud noise. To name a few, Im into artists like Phil Roy, Amos Lee, Mark Cohn, David Gray, Keb Mo and Randy Newman.
Feel free to call me crazy, but my music collection includes no music from famous privileged groups that toured the world opening spending millions of dollars to support their drug habit while the authorities looked the other way.
For classic rock lovers that are looking to branch out, one of the best places to start is internet station Radio Paradise.
My other favorite internet station to help broaden musical horizons from a broader roots music perspective other than rock is WWOZ in New Orleans. THis station knows what American roots music is all about!
With artists like Kanye West becoming the self-proclaimed "voice of a generation", I would look to earlier more creative times for inspiration if I were a member of today's younger generation. The interesting part of this thread to me is not the lack of new good music, but the method of distribution seems to be what has changed the most. The internet, giant corporate radio, no more record stores, and economic reality have all contributed to the changing music industry. A lot of bands make the majority of their income from touring rather than selling albums these days. There are some great ideas in the above recommendations and I think that you are on the right track in your efforts to diversify genres. Blues, reggae, bluegrass, Cajun, and old fashioned rock and roll still are being created. you just have to look a little harder to find it. Publications, blogs, festivals, internet radio, youtube, and the web in general are the main sources of new music today.
Much of it just doesn't fit your embedded criteria for acceptable music. Look, every decade/generation has its share of totally shitty music. The 70's, 80's, and 90's (especially the 90's) all had a factory's worth of bubble-gum bullsh*t with generic styles, voices, personas, and faces. Those artists always get the limelight because they appeal to the superficial acceptance factor of much of the music-gobbling population.
However, to say that most new music sucks is to say that you're unwilling to leave your own perspective and acknowledge the very immediate, very available musical artistry that's out there today. Artists like Adele, The National, M83, Taylor Swift, Lemar, Band of Horses, Sufjan Stevens, Nas, Jay-Z, etc., are all as talented and influential as anything done in the last three decades. I don;t have to like them, but I have to admit their sheer talent and dedication to their craft.
I mean, Zep may have broken new ground, but new artists simply continue building the road that Zep started years ago.
Hell, even your list of artists you grew up with (all of whom I share your reverence of, if not your complete idolatry), share much with the current crop of musical avante-garde and illuminati. And artists like Rush - who just last year released their best album since 1981 - , The Police, Tears for Fears, Talking Heads, and others will remain my musical benchmarks - but not to the whiny exclusion of the musical zeitgeist.
Admittedly, modern engineering is geared way too much towards radio production, with all its compression and limited sonics and target audience who doesn't give a shit about high fidelity. But as music has become so niche-oriented, there're plenty of artists and music out there that can satisfy you.
If not, you might as well go on Eagles tour or cough up $500 for a Stones ticket. It sounds as if your stone gathered moss long ago.
A lot of interesting comments. I sample as much new music as I can or stand via Amazon or Pandora. I will need to check out Paradise radio as another source. I would never cough up the big bucks for a "classic" rock tour as mentioned above which gets me to another point of the really poor sound at large rock venues. I would rather stay home and listen to better sound on my two channel system. I do try and find smaller venues such as theaters with great sound and have seen some really good performances by Greg Brown, The Cowboy Junkies, Bonney Raitt, Little Big Town and the Wailin Jennys.
I do play music and spend a fair amout of time in the recording studio so I'm really critical of the MP3 earbud "standard". I will say that most "kids" don't know what good sound is. Whenever they hear a good two channel system they are amazed at what is possible and perhaps a new audiophile is born. Cheers!
*****I do play music and spend a fair amout of time in the recording studio so I'm really critical of the MP3 earbud "standard". I will say that most "kids" don't know what good sound is. Whenever they hear a good two channel system they are amazed at what is possible and perhaps a new audiophile is born. Cheers!********
The choices are not limited to MP3 or 'Audiophile'. If the young folks think that's the case, that might well be the problem!
I meant no offense and apologize if I cam e across too judgmentally. It's just that I always shudder when someone makes a sweeping generalization about an art form - like opining that most new music sucks. I;m quite sure that many of those in their 40's and 50's said much the same thing when The Who and Zep and such came about in the mid- to late-60's. Much of mew music is simply different in scope and presentation from the standard rock paradigm.
Also, most ADULTS don't know what good sound is. Seriously. For most of the adult world, Bose or Cerwin-Vega! or Bang and Olufsen represent the ultimate in sound, and as long as they have their surround system with earth-shattering bass, they're happy. We audiophiles are a niche minority.
Case in point, a recent review of M83's "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming" cd (whence comes "Midnight City"), while lauding its sonic mastery and composition, lamented that much of its 20-something audience wouldn;t have the equipment needed to really appreciate its audiophile production and attention to detail - nor would they care.
Besides, who ever accused "young folks" of being appreciative of sonic nuances and three-dimensional sound-stages? :)
I get the feeling "most of the music" from any particular time won't stand the test of time. We tend to forget much of the flat out crap or stuff that has not aged well from- name your decade. We have much more choices now- internet radio, spottily and so on dilute the new good stuff. Fleet Foxes, Kate Bush, Radiohead, Devotchka, Janelle Monae get as much of my listening time as Buffalo Springfield, the Doors, R.E.M. Further, there's so much music from earlier decades that I'd never even heard of- The McGarrigles (thanks Elizabeth), the Shins, Stone Roses. And I'm not going to even start on classical- all of Furtwangler's recorded output in one box! Thus, I side with those who feel this is a great time to be a music lover.
There's just as good and as much good new music now than in the 60's and 70's. The market is not there any longer. If you're not fortunate enough to have a good radio station in your area, try NPR's website.
For some people, Zep, The Beatles, The Who, etc. are just examples of white folk butchering the music of Chuck Berry, et al. Then there are the folks that see Chuck Berry as an abomination of the blues. Etc. Etc.
I don't love hip hop, but I do see it as one more step in the evolution of the blues into dance music - pretty much the same way I see rock n roll.
Everyone sees art where they see it, misses art where they don't see it, and may or may not struggle to see it where it doesn't exist. At the end of the day, all you can do is keep looking. An open mind helps, but even that doesn't guarantee that anyone will relate to a given piece of music.
How many parents in the 1960s and 70s asked their teenagers why they listened to all that garbage? I clearly remember that my dad didn't think much of the Beatles and the other popular groups when I was a teen.
One also doesn't have to dig very deep to find that parents in decades before didn't think much of popular music for young people. In fact, the basic premise of the movie "The Benny Goodman Story" is "The legendary band leader fights to make swing acceptable" (a quote from the TCM channel web site).
In another example, I read that J.S. Bach was almost fired from his first job as a church organist. They thought his style of playing was distracting the congregation.
In spite of being an aging baby boomer, I spend very little listening time reliving the music of my youth. I'm about 1/3 classical and 1/3 jazz. When I do listen to rock or popular music, the odds are substantially in favor of more recent indy stuff. (I don't find much that appeals in mainstream pop, but that's my taste. I don't need others to agree with me.)
But, that's the nice thing about music -- there's plenty of variety so there's something for everyone.
My dad was very hip actually and even bought Led Zep. As well as the Beatles and Stones. He loved classical as well and he was only in his 30s at the time. I inherited his JBL C36s with the 030 speaker package.
There's probably more good--and bad--now than before simply because there's so much more being produced. There are so many more people around now and I'm betting a higher percentage are involved in making music. Homemade productions are huge in number due to the technology. How many self-produced projects were there in the 60's or 70's? Not many.
Years from now the bad stuff will mostly have gone away and will be forgotten. The good stuff will be cherished and a later generation will get the wrong idea that this was a "golden age." I promise you, for all the good music produced in the 60's there was also a great deal of crap. And, of course, it's all subjective anyway.
I did check out Radio Paradise for some different music and sampled the playlist via Amazon. I didn't really find an artist that could hold together an entire CD except for Ben Howard who I thought was exceptional....so still searching.
There is no good new music. Go ahead, take a deep breath and begin with the word 'there'. Just do it. Now that wasn't so hard was it? Because if it is good, it's a remake. Why is it so hard to face the fact that music can be reduced to a mathematical equation. There simply is not an infinite number of original pleasing harmonies available. This is why the new stuff sucks. No different from the old stuff that sucks. Do the math. And top 40's is a ridiculous comparison. It's time to usher in the brave new world of 'Plagiary'.
Bob Mintzer is one of the greatest musicians I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. His level of proficiency on his instruments, composing/arranging skills, and insight into the core of music, and art in general, is truly amazing. Those who don't know him or his work can read more about him in on his website. The comments below re the OP's question are from the "Blog" page in his website:
February 12, 2013 6:14 pm When I was doing session work in NYC I worked a few times for an arranger who played in the big bands of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey. Most of the guys on the session were 15-20 years older than I. I had some quasi-soloing to do on one of the cues for a soap opera session with these musicians. The arranger commented privately to one of my friends later that he was perturbed that I did not play more like Al Klink from the Glen Miller band. The guys from my generation were emulating Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Joe Henderson. This arranger clearly heard things differently than I did. Needless to say, I was not called back to work for that arranger again after that. I did go out and did some research on the saxophonists of that era subsequently.
I am finding myself in a similar situation today after having attended the Grammy celebration last night. Only this time I am on the other end of the spectrum.
I feel like we were witnessing the further dumbing down of music, the lack of acknowledgement of so much of the profound music that has influenced what we do today, and disguising the lackluster level of musicianship we heard in a mass of glitz, special effects, special sets, and camera work.
First the good news. The Grammy bands, comprised of high school students from around the US were by far the best musicians to perform all day. They played with an amazing level of maturity, poise, and spirit that bodes well for the future of refined, informed playing. Justin Dicioccio and Ron McCurdy did fantastic jobs directing the big band and vocal ensemble. Bravo to them and all the students!
The live band at the pre telecast was great as well. My bandmate Will Kennedy from the Yellowjackets was on board. I couldnt see him, as we were pretty far away, but I heard one snare drum crack and knew it was him.
On to the telecast which, Im told, had the highest ratings of any Grammy telecast for the last 20 years. To me (music is VERY subjective and personal, so this is an important caveat) nobody in the whole telecast sang or played their ass off. There were a few nice tunes, but the live versions were far less compelling than the hyper-produced versions you heard during the announcements of the nominees. TO ME most of the music lacked subtlety, interesting harmony or melody, or rhythms for that matter.
There was no James Brown, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, James Taylor, John Mayer, Stevie Wonder, or Aretha Franklin anywhere in sight!
One of musics iconic treasures, Dr. John was buried in a large band with the Black Keys and a New Orleans brass band that wound up sounding like a high school garage band jam session. I did not hear Dr. John play one note! Its unfathomable to me that musicians would play with such a great musician and blatantly play right over him.
A tribute to Dave Brubeck, an American musical hero, lasted 30 seconds (Chick Corea, Kenny Garrett, Stanley Clark), and was such an amazing slight to this great artists legacy and to jazz music in general. This made things embarrassingly clear that the Grammys have become all about television ratings and very little about the music.
The so called collaborations (arent you supposed to collaborate on a collaboration?) were very mis-matched, and again the performances were pretty bad.
Out of tune singing and mediocre playing of instruments do not a collaboration make!
The songs were forgettable.
Lots of other little things were disconcerting as well. At the pre telecast an 8 piece faux chamber music group performed a Phillip Glass in odd meter like piece that was not terribly interesting, then went on to win a Grammy. Hard to understand. Jazz musicians do far more interesting things with odd meter coupled with improvisation.
A Gil Evans arrangement from 1949 won best arrangement of a composition over several of the most prominent arrangers of this era. One would think that some note worthy things nave happened since 1949.
Music and art generally reflect some level of what is happening in society.
This years Grammys is a pretty good snap shot of the world we live in. Recognition and prosperity for a select few and the dissemination of information that doesnt necessarily reflect the truth, frequently obscuring view of those who do the best and most profound work.
All we can do is continue to speak out on these issues and keep the flame alive for quality playing, live playing, the craft of musical composition, and informed musical decisions in creating our art.
Big +1 on Bob Mintzer! When CD's 1st came out (mid 80's), Tower Records used to carry Japanese imports of releases unavailable in the states (of American artists!). I own Mintzer's 1st 2 records (recorded just prior to his excellent Big Band recordings on DMP); 'Horn Man' & 'Source'. The musicians on these sessions included; Jaco Pastorius, Don Grolnick, Peter Erskine, John Tropea, Will Lee, Randy Brecker, & Lou Soloff. Great Stuff! Never seen him with a Big Band but I've caught him 3 times with the YJ's, Tremendous musician!
Most new things (music, fashion, books, art, ect.) suck because you've gotten old and become inflexible. You know what you know and really don't want to know anything else. You were once a young leopard invading the temple, but you're now old and saying things typically said by old people. You're "One step closer to death", and they sang that about you 40 years ago!